He tried to control his face, but she laughed. “You are so transparent. I thawed a steak for you. Fish for me.” She held up a thin bamboo spike. “I’m putting together some vegetable skewers to grill too.”
Having helped her carry the small bowls of vegetables and a cutting board out to the patio area off the back of her kitchen, he put everything on the small wrought iron table she had out there, then pushed up the lid on the grill. Her Japanese garden was off to the left, but she’d planted plenty of lush greenery here too, cocooning the space in whispering quiet.
As he got the grill going, she sat at the table and put the skewers together. They were colorful with bell peppers and things, and he was actually looking forward to eating them.
“I made a marinade for the vegetables,” she said conversationally as she worked. “With honey and spices and my secret ingredient.”
Noah’s lips tugged up at the corners. “Did David teach you?”
“Busted!” Her laughter filled the air, filled the hollow spaces inside him.
There was more laughter as they finished making the meal, more smiles, until nothing was awkward. He felt like he was home. The food was good, but the best thing was sitting out here under the early evening sky with Kit across from him.
Too bad the simple pleasure of it couldn’t last. His mind began to race as they finished clearing up, a rat on a wheel. What the hell was he going to do when it was time to sleep? He wasn’t about to take the pills, and his other “drug” of choice was now permanently off the menu. The only thing he could do was run, but he wasn’t going to leave Kit alone in the house when her stalker was back.
So do push-ups or sit-ups until you exhaust yourself enough to catch some shut-eye, he ordered himself. Do not screw this up.
“You know there’s a Dancing with the Stars special on tonight, right?”
He groaned, his worry about sleep momentarily erased. “You’re really going to make me watch?”
She bumped him with her shoulder. “I’m inviting. If you’d rather do something else, I don’t care.”
Laughing at her fake-insulted tone, he said, “Since when are you passive-aggressive?”
A wink as she grabbed a packet of frozen blueberries from the freezer and poured a handful into a bowl. “This is war.” She held up the bag. “You want some?”
The invitation made his breath get all hard and jagged inside him. He’d never eaten frozen blueberries before Kit introduced him to what was one of her favorite desserts. And now here he was again, being given a second chance. “No, I’m good.” Trying to breathe normally, he followed her to the lounge, sprawling beside her as she took a seat on the sofa with her legs curled under her.
Since she hadn’t told him to stop doing it, he stretched out his arm along the back of the sofa and played with her hair.
Reaching back, she tugged off her hair tie so that the fall of silken strands cascaded over his hand. “You sure you don’t want a blueberry or three?”
“You twisted my arm.” He twined her hair around his fingers. “Gimme.”
She popped a couple into his mouth. Their eyes connected.
The intro to the show came on a second later, breaking the incipient tension of the sweetly intimate moment.
Noah had never had so much fun watching random famous and semi-famous people try to dance. He had to admit he had a new and serious respect for a few of them for putting themselves out there, but mostly he was horrified. “Spandex? Wasn’t that made illegal like two decades ago?”
Elbowing him, Kit spluttered with laughter. “Stop it.”
“Fuck me, he’s wearing sequins.”
“Rock stars have been known to wear sequins.”
“No rock star in his right mind has ever worn sequins in that—” His mouth fell open. “Is that a codpiece? For real?” Snorting, he said, “No way except in his dreams is his dick that big. He’s probably got two bananas in there.”
Face going red as she tried to hold in laughter, Kit ended up against him. He curled his arm around her, realizing he didn’t have to fight his need. She’d said they could try, and he liked having Kit’s warm, laughing body next to his.
She stayed against him, and every so often when he made a particularly deplorable comment, she’d lightly hit his thigh and tell him to behave. Every other time a woman had touched his thigh, it had been about sex. The first couple of times Kit did it, he tensed, but then it was okay. It was Kit and they were watching a silly show on television that she inexplicably liked. It was normal.